15. Leigh Halfpenny – 7
Racked up 11 points with the boot in what was a very good performance until a second-half sin-binning. Perhaps a touch naïve when clumsily tackling the airborne Sergio Parisse, and it’s clear no malice was intended, but yellow card was deserved.
14. Alex Cuthbert – 8
Very strong performance from a winger who has grown as the tournament has progressed. His strong running display was capped off with a fine try.
13. Jon Davies – 8
Wales’ lynchpin in the backs. Still improving small areas of his game, but his ability to turnover ball, beat defenders and launch attacks has made him one of the team’s most important players this tournament.
12. Jamie Roberts – 7
Good display by the Cardiff centre, showing up well for someone who spent most of the build-up recovering from injury. While Wales normally turn to Roberts to find quick ball he was regularly used as a decoy, either through passing back inside or as a dummy runner, and often to good effect. Took his try very well.
11. George North – 7
A powerful early break looked like a sign of things to come, but the towering wing was largely kept in check by a strong Italian defence.
10. Rhys Priestland – 6
The perfect chance to recover from a shaky performance against England, but the Scarlets fly-half failed to take it. Mixed up the game well in the face of a solid Italian backline, but punctuated his game with errors.
9. Mike Phillips – 7
A good game from the scrum-half, who marshalled his pack well, but occasionally looked to do too much when little was on. Needs to improve patience but class was clear.
1. Gethin Jenkins – 7
Did well in his first game as captain in this championship, recovering from an early scrum penalty to be part of a dominant Welsh set-piece.
2. Matthew Rees – 6
Wales line-out woes were largely forgotten as Rees made his return from injury. Was subbed in the second-half but should retain place.
3. Adam Jones – 7
Another strong display from the tighthead prop, who looks take part in one of the key battles in next week’s Grand Slam decider against France.
4. Alun Wyn Jones – 6
Difficult for the lock to really impress in a match where Wales dominated possession, but it was still another tireless effort. Several early penalties against Wales as they failed to clear out rucks will not have pleased the lock.
5. Ian Evans – 7
Played a key role in Wales’ much improved line-out and made his presence felt in the loose, winning two turnovers to help the cause.
6. Dan Lydiate – 7
Another one of Wales’ top performers in the tournament. Though Wales were not required to be as stoic in defence as they were against England, Lydiate still led his team in tackles and is a fearsome competitor.
7. Justin Tipuric – 8.5
The injury to Sam Warburton gave the Ospreys flanker the chance to show why he is so highly rated and he duly responded. An ever-present support runner, Tipuric doesn’t offer the same breakdown threat as Warburton but he covers a lot of ground and his excellent work-rate ensured he was a menace to the Italians throughout.
8. Toby Faletau – 8
Dynamic, assured, athletic – it’s easy to see why Faletau has been taken into the hearts of a nation. Has arguably been the best number 8 in the competition so far.
The full complement was used, with Luke Charteris and Rhys Webb deserving special mention. Charteris continued where he left off during the World Cup, while Webb may just be the first scrum-half to win a turnover with their very first touch in international rugby.
by Tom James